Celebration promotes diversity

The Cultural Celebration of the Spanish Language is a new initiative in the Tampa Bay area. Dr. Jorge Nef, the Director of Latin American and Caribbean Studies at USF, hopes the first-ever event raises awareness of the vast cultural and literal contributions of the Spanish language.

“Our goal is to make more partners in the community to help create positive and provocative creative events,” Nef said.

Nef said the event, held Thursday in the USF Tampa Library, is the first step in establishing a program of subsequent events to illustrate the many forms of artistic expression that capture the essence of Latin American culture and language.

The Cultural Celebration of the Spanish Language is a non-profit organization created to stimulate and promote appreciation of artistic contributions made by people of Latin-Canadian origins and other Canadians of different origins.

Dr. Margarita Feliciano, the director of the organizing committee of the group and close friend and colleague of Nef, is a senior scholar at York University in Toronto.

“The organization strives for the creation of literary works and keeping alive the Spanish culture and literature in Canada,” Feliciano said. Nef wants to bring that same scheme to Tampa.

Thursday’s event showcased bilingual readings of original poetry and short stories. With the help of Feliciano, the program was designed to illustrate the diversity of the Spanish language. Although the event was bilingual, Nef believes non-Spanish speakers can still appreciate the creative work.

“We are opening a whole new bilingual dimension,” Nef said.

Feliciano hopes the initiative strengthens existing links and establishes new ones throughout the Hispanic academic world in Canada and the United States.

Between the both of them, Feliciano and Nef have written numerous books and essays and are well recognized for their contributions in their field.

Feliciano is a senior scholar and head of the department of Hispanic Studies at York University. The Cultural Celebration of the Spanish Language is responsible for the annual Festival of Images and Words, which collaborates closely with institutions of higher education, Spanish-speaking Consulates and Embassies and many individuals and companies in both private and public sectors.

Nef has won awards for his essays and articles and is preparing for two other events that will follow up the one held Thursday. The second event will coincide with the 2005 Tampa Arts Festival in April.

“We want to create a ferment on talent already here,” Nef said, “We want to hire a soprano, a classical Spanish guitarist and flautist to perform at the festival.”

The final event will be the Spanish cultural celebration held in October during Hispanic Heritage Month. Although the last two events will be held at the Dali Museum in St. Petersburg, USF will remain closely involved through many channels. The College of Visual and Performing Arts and the College of Arts and Sciences will contribute to all the events.